Homeschooling with a Two Year Old

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of certain fears, particular doubts.

John, age two, is an absolute joy to have around. He’s the perfect little sponge, too. Since Charles took his time speaking, it’s been a fun (and funny!) experience having a two year old who speaks exceptionally well. He’ll basically repeat anything said to him (I need to get a recording of him singing The Seven Continents Song, because it’s just beyond adorable); he has learned the alphabet song and is counting pretty well, all from hearing it, mostly from his older brother. I think this is rather typical, but since Charles had no interest in talking for the longest time (and then when he would speak to me, a lot of times he would just whisper), it is different and new to us.

That being said, Charles was doing jigsaw puzzles before he was two. He has always had an ability to focus deeply, calmly, and with an immediate respect for the materials we might be using. For example, I introduced a movable alphabet to Charles at a very young age: he returned letters back to their proper places; he kept the material in the intended space (never carried a letter or two into another room); he never threw or broke or played with it inappropriately. This, at age two (or even before age two). I didn’t teach him this, it’s just his personality. This may sound silly, but I really didn’t understand how unique this was until I had another child.

John is learning to be more respectful with our learning materials, but he has a long way to go before scattering pieces all over the house, and throwing things occasionally when he’s tired of it (or just to get some attention). I bring all of this up because like any other mom, I’m dealing with two very different personalities, learning styles, and levels, and I’ve had to adjust my expectations. A lesson on place value with Charles can go quite smoothly—if John isn’t around.

Now when I’ve asked some homeschooling friends what they do with their littles during lessons, they give them something like a coloring page, and tell them it’s their lesson, etc. My problem is, we favor more Montessori type lessons (when doing something more “formal” and not entirely play-based), with different materials and manipulatives. I’m not just handing out a worksheet. John wants to be doing whatever Charles is doing, and sometimes that also goes vice versa as well. If I gave John something separate to do while we do a lesson, Charles may want to do what John is doing (Charles being just two years older). My point is, no kid wants to be stuck coloring while his brother gets to play with math blocks.

Anyway, I’ve been struggling with how to approach this. John will still take a nap, mostly, but it’s starting to phase out a bit, so I can’t always count on naptime for more “formal” lessons. (The other issue at hand, I’m in my third trimester at the moment, and by the afternoon, I’m ready for a nap, too! But I am guilty of not getting to bed on time, so I’m shooting myself in the foot there; I need to correct my bad habits.)

My solution for now is to just do it. I will limit my expectations, drink a big cup of patience, modify our play, and try to take advantage of naptime more. I suppose if anything, I’m learning an important lesson not to rush things, to take our time. To respect a careful, steady, slow pace.

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